With its white-sand beaches, lush rainforests, untamed outback and world-famous Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is the ultimate Australian holiday destination. Despite its size—about seven times larger than the UK—many of the state’s best weekend retreats are easily accessible from Brisbane or regional airport hubs, ideal for an easy escape. From an accessible island adventure to a city break that will transport you to another era, here are seven weekend breaks to add to your must-book list.
Weekend getaways in Queensland: Be enticed by the bush or the coast
Escape to a far north Queensland rainforest retreat
Get back to nature at this award-winning eco-retreat set on a private peninsula in Tropical North Queensland. With its string of luxe timber bungalows tucked under a lush jungle canopy, just a stone’s throw from the pristine sands of secluded Oak Beach, Thala Beach Nature Reserve has a way of making you feel much more remote than its handy location just 45 minutes north of Cairns Airport.
With free guided nature walks, stargazing sessions, talks by the local Aboriginal community, the Kuku Yalangi people, and the resort’s signature Coconut Odyssey—Australia’s only coconut tour—on offer, it’s easy to spend your entire weekend on the 145-acre property, which also has an on-site spa, and a modern Australian restaurant, Osprey’s, with incredible Coral Sea views.
Should you feel like venturing out, the restaurants and cafes of Port Douglas are just a 15-minute drive away. Just beyond lies the magnificent Daintree Rainforest, not to mention the famous Great Barrier Reef, to which Thala staff can help you arrange tours.
A stylish weekend getaway in Noosa
With a super-central location on trendy Hastings Street, just behind Noosa’s main beach, the Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort isn’t just a convenient base for exploring one of Queensland’s most idyllic seaside towns, but the chic resort’s many amenities will ensure you never get bored.
Following a rebranding in 2016, the hotel underwent a multi-million dollar makeover reflecting the brand’s distinctive style which blends local culture with the art of French living. Beyond the 176 stylish guest rooms decorated with Aboriginal artwork, guests have access to a huge lagoon pool (with five luxe French-style cabanas for rent), three bars and the popular Beach House Restaurant that draws inspiration from award-winning chef Peter Kuruvita’s international travels.
There’s school holiday programs for kids, a day spa offering more than 50 relaxing and rejuvenating treatments, and a well-equipped fitness centre. Should you fancy stretching your legs outdoors, the resort lies just 100 metres east of the Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve—a flat, leafy headland perfect for walking and cycling.
Retreat to the Sunshine Coast hinterland
Nestled between a clutch of magnificent volcanic outcrops known as the Glasshouse Mountains and less than an hour-and-a-half drive north of Brisbane, this stylish bed and breakfast brings the wow factor to weekending.
With floor-to-ceiling glass windows in each of its three architect-designed cottages, Glass on Glasshouse brings the surrounding mountains to you, with views of one or both of Mt Beerwah and Mt Coonowrin. Designed to give guests a feeling of light and space, the self-contained cottages are furnished with all the mod-cons. There’s also a barbecue on the spacious deck, from where you can often spot wild kangaroos grazing in the surrounding bush.
Perfect for a soak after a bushwalk, each cottage features a freestanding bathtub with an eco-smart fire which can be experienced from the bathroom as well as the lounge. Gourmet breakfast provisions are included for weekend stays, though should you prefer to dine out for other meals, the popular hinterland towns of Maleny and Montville are both less than 30 minutes’ drive away.
Water babies can enjoy the beaches of Caloundra just 25 minutes’ drive east, while the Mary Cairncross Rainforest, just 30 minutes’ drive north, has over two kilometres of lush walking trails to explore. Don’t miss the nearby Brouhaha craft brewery nearby.
Relax in rural Southeast Queensland luxury
Specialising in luxurious escapes from the every day, Spicers Retreats know how to deliver a getaway to remember. Only an hour’s drive west of Brisbane, Spicers Hidden Vale is a great option for an uncomplicated weekend break from the city.
At this rural retreat surrounded by 12,000 acres of Aussie bush, guests lodge in beautifully restored Queenslander-style cottages dating back to the 1800s, all positioned to offer sweeping countryside views. With luxurious furnishings that maintain a timeless country style, each cottage—some of which are equipped with wood-burning fireplaces—is unique.
Anchored by paddock-to-plate restaurant Homage, Hidden Vale is the ideal place to sit still for a weekend, perhaps making use of the two swimming pools, the outdoor spa, the on-site bar and lounge, and the tennis court. Should you fancy stretching your legs, the property is also laced with mountain biking and walking trails, with 4WD tours also available. Top off a perfect day next to a crackling campfire, gazing at the twinkling stars.
An adventurous weekend getaway in Queensland
Just 15 kilometres off the coast of Hervey Bay, Fraser Island offers one of Australia’s most incredible wilderness adventures. With solid 4WD skills and a certain level of self-sufficiency required to visit independently, many would-be visitors put this destination in the too-hard basket. But if you bed down at Kingfisher Bay Resort, you can visit without even having to drive.
Serviced by six ferries per day from River Heads, just south of Harvey Bay, the resort offers a great range of guided 4WD tours around the UNESCO-protected sand island, known for its idyllic freshwater lakes, wild beaches, old-growth forests and wildlife, including its famous dingoes.
With accommodations spanning standard doubles to family resort rooms and even a spa villa, there’s an option to suit all budgets. There’s also three restaurants, three bars, and an on-site day spa offering an extensive range of treatments including several luxurious curated ‘spa journeys’ using natural Australian products.
Beyond its 4WD trips, Kingfisher Bay Resort also offers activities including ranger-guided canoe paddles, bush tucker talks and tasting, night walks, a junior rangers program for kids, and more. In other words, more than enough options to fill an adventurous weekend away.
Step back into the 1950s in the heart of the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast’s original beach hotels may have been knocked down in the ‘80s to make way for high-rise apartment blocks, but the memories live on at QT Gold Coast, which celebrates the golden era of the Gold Coast with a modern twist. Think bright, mid-century-style decor, pin-up girl prints in the lifts, and cockatoo-shaped bedside lamps. True to the QT brand, it’s a quirky and fun place to stay with a great holiday vibe.
Located in Surfers Paradise, just one block back from the beach, QT Gold Coast is perfectly positioned for beach swims and city strolls. While there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby, the in-house Bazaar restaurant is renowned for its gourmet buffet-style meals. Breakfast is a particularly decadent affair with its smorgasbord of house-made hot dishes, freshly squeezed juices, from-the-oven pastries and delicious yoghurts.
While the hotel has no gym, guests have use of a pool shaded by candy-striped umbrellas. There’s also the SpaQ should you need a little polishing before kicking off your evening with a few cocktails at the hip Stingray Lounge.
A weekend getaway in Queensland's hinterland
From its lush surroundings in the subtropical rainforest of Lamington National Park, you’d never know Binna Burra Lodge was less than an hour’s drive from the heart of the city. With 160 kilometres of walking trails on the doorstep of the lodge—perched 800 metres above sea level—it’s the ultimate escape for active weekenders.
Accommodation options span cosy rooms in the heritage-listed Mountain Lodge, which has been welcoming guests since the 1930s, to more modern studios and fully self-contained apartments in the Sky Lodges. There’s also the Rainforest Campsite with safari tents available for those who aren’t fussed on pitching their own, and the Groom’s Cottage, which is ideal for groups.
On top of its bushwalks, the lodge offers a variety of complimentary activities, including Hatha yoga on weekends. Kids, here, will be thoroughly entertained with a 165-metre flying fox, several abseiling courses and horse-riding tours. After a long hike, guests can also opt to indulge in a deluxe massage treatment or a facial at the on-site mini-spa, Bliss Massage.
If you’re not in the mood to cook, meals can be taken at the Clifftop Dining Room, which serves buffet-style meals, and the Lamington Teahouse Café, which offers cafe-style fare. Come sunset, The Lodge Bar, which boasts stunning views across the national park, is the place to relax with a glass of local Gold Coast hinterland wine.